A Dubai tenant should insist on getting a written permission from the landlord to keep pets at home. Sarah Dea / The National
A Dubai tenant should insist on getting a written permission from the landlord to keep pets at home. Sarah Dea / The National

Mario Volpi: Dubai tenant in the doghouse as landlord orders removal of pet

My dog and I have been unfairly treated by my landlord in Dubai. When I moved into the apartment in March 2014, I declared I had a dog and was assured that the landlord didn't have a problem with this, given there was another pet owner with two dogs in the building. Unfortunately, instead of getting this in writing, I took their word as consent. Then recently, I was sent a letter stating that, I am "not allowed to keep any animal", and was given "48 hours to resolve the matter or else vacate". I was devastated and requested permission to stay with my dog at least until the end of my lease. However, their response was negative, stating that I had to "take him out with immediate effect". The only reason I moved in was because I was given permission to stay with my dog. If I leave, I'll have a penalty of two months' rent plus Dh500. How can a landlord wake up one morning and decide to go against their word? AL, Dubai

The lesson that can be learnt from your experience is to definitely insist on getting everything in writing in future so there cannot be any surprises. Moving into an apartment with a pet (dog) on the basis that there are other pet owners living there is no guarantee of peaceful future living. Most landlords do not have a problem with their tenants having a dog or other pets, but the problem goes further than individual owners (landlords). A pet owner should also get permission (in writing) from the owners' association or from the company that manages or maintains the building.

The ultimate decision lies with the municipality, especially if there is a complaint. This is the real reason I think your landlord has had a change of heart. Something negative must have been said or got back to him. Without written documentation of permission, sadly you will always be living in fear. Although you are a responsible pet owner, there are many who are not. It only takes an “incident” such as someone stepping into dog mess that has not been cleared up for the banning of pets in a particular area to come into force.

Be determined in your face- to-face communications with the landlord and/or the property management company to come to some sort of a compromise.

I am renting a flat in Sports City and my contract is about to finish. I received a letter on February 1, 2015 from the court saying the landlord will not renew it for the next year and the reasons are personal. Since this letter, I haven't heard from the landlord so what kind of rights do I have? And when do I have to leave the flat according to the law? SP, Dubai

I assume that if your landlord has given you notice for “personal reasons” then this must mean he wishes to use the property himself or his immediate next of kin. There are two points I would like to explain; the first is that if this is indeed the reason for your eviction, then the owner has to show evidence that he doesn’t have another suitable alternative property he can use. The second point is less clear. You say that the court letter was received by you at the beginning of February 2015. Law 33 of 2008, article 25 (2) states that a landlord may demand eviction from a tenant upon expiry of the tenancy contract for the reasons mentioned. Sending this notice three months after the renewal would not (in my opinion) constitute “upon expiry”. Therefore, if you wish to stay on in the property you could file a case at the rental dispute committee stating that the eviction notice was not issued at the correct time and/or request your landlord prove he doesn’t have a suitable alternative property he can use.

As the law is not set by precedent, I cannot confirm exactly what the final outcome will be at the rental dispute centre, as judges assess situations on a case-by-case basis.

Lastly, any changes to a tenancy contract have to be communicated and agreed upon by either party 90 days before the expiry of the agreement, so given the fact that the contract is about to expire, unless he has given you this notice in writing he is not allowed to change the price.

Mario Volpi is a real estate professional who has worked within the industry for the past 31 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not reflect in any way those of the institutions to which he is affiliated. It does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Please send any questions to mariovolpi64@gmail.com.


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